What’s the difference between Title and Parcel ?

What’s the difference between Title and Parcel ?

Do you know what the difference between Title and parcel is? Property terminology can often be confusing. Frequently a number of terms with formal or legal meaning are used interchangeably in common language, leading to. In this blog post, we will try to clarify the definitions for commonly used property terms.


What is a title?

A property title is the record under the New Zealand land transfer system that shows a property’s: proprietors (owners), legal description, and the rights and restrictions registered on the title (e.g. a mortgage, an easement, or a covenant) (Land Information New Zealand, 2016c). A Certificate of Title (CT) is produced by LINZ and contains this information (Figure 1). Other information contained on a CT includes: the title’s unique identifier, the certificate’s issue date, the legal descriptions of the parcels of land associated with the title, and the total area of the title. The common term ‘property’ should be thought of as the land or area listed on a CT. As well as the property title information, LINZ also keeps a copy of the title plan for each title. A title plan is the plan deposited by LINZ when a new title is created (Land Information New Zealand, 2016c). Most title plans have two parts; a title sheet and a survey sheet, with unit titles plans having a third – a supplementary record sheet. The title sheet shows the plan deposited when the title was created, and is a simple diagram of the property’s boundaries, area and dimensions, a detailed survey plan, or a combination of both (Land Information New Zealand, 2016b). The survey sheet contains detailed survey observations (Land Information New Zealand, 2016a). Sample copies of a title sheet and a survey plan are shown in Figure B and Figure C, respectively. In New Zealand there are numerous types of titles. The most common are: freehold titles (also known as fee simple titles), leasehold titles, unit titles and cross lease titles. Other less common title types include: life estate, gazette notice, records embodied in the register, supplementary record sheet, and timeshare titles. We have a blog post detailing the different types of New Zealand titles.


 Figure A: Example of Certificate of Title (image sourced from Land Information New Zealand, 2015)






Figure B – Example of cadastral survey plan (title sheet) (image sourced from Land Information New Zealand, 2016b)




Figure C – Example of cadastral survey plan (survey sheet) (image sourced from Land Information New Zealand, 2016a)



 What is a parcel?


A parcel most often refers to a piece of land (also known as a lot or a section) and refers to a single allotment on an approved survey plan. All areas of land, water, and sea in New Zealand are contained in parcels. This includes all rivers, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, tidal areas, and the marine area within New Zealand’s 12 Mile Territorial Sea Outer Limit. No parcel can overlap another parcel, and each has a unique identifier. The boundaries of parcels are detailed on cadastral survey plans, the main type being a deposited plan (DP). DPs show in diagram form the physical extent of the parcels that have been surveyed. An example of a survey plan is shown (Figure 2 and Figure 3). Under New Zealand’s land transfer system, each parcel of land is described with an appellation, more commonly known as a parcel’s legal description. This appellation includes the parcel’s lot number and the DP number. For example, the lot and DP number for Lot 1 as shown in Figure 2 is Lot 1 DP329839 (the first lot on Deposited Plan 329839). Cadastral survey plans for a unit title scheme show both the boundaries of the parcel as well as the extent of the units on the parcel (See Figure below)


So what’s the difference between a title and a parcel?

As outlined above, a parcel is a surveyed and measured piece of land and has a unique identifier (its appellation), whereas a title refers to the areas specified on a CT (Certificate of title) and includes ownership and encumbrance information. Parcels or parts of parcels are referred to on a CT (Certificate of title) to indicate the area or areas that the CT applies to.


How do a parcel and title relate to each other?


The relationship between parcels and is explained in the following series of diagrams and commentary (see Figure 01, Figure 02, Figure 03, Figure 04, and Figure 05). Figure 01 illustrates a single dwelling on a property. This example applies to most stand-alone suburban homes in Auckland. In this case, there is a single parcel on a single title, which has a single house on it (one parcel to one title).



Figure 01


Figure 02 illustrates a scenario with two parcels on a single title with a single house on it (two parcels to one title). Despite there being two parcels since both parcels are contained on a single title, there is single ownership. Although there are two parcels, the real world view is the same as that seen if there was a single parcel. A real world example of this scenario is shown in Figure 7. The red lines denote the parcel boundaries, but the blue lines denotes that both of these parcels are on a single title.



Figure 02


Figure 03: Example of a property with one title and two parcels


Figure 03


Many cross lease titles and unit titles have multiple titles for a single parcel of land Figure 04 illustrates two dwellings on one parcel, each with its own title (one parcel to two titles). While many presume that units need to be attached to one another, that is not always the case and stand-alone dwellings can be on both cross lease titles and unit titles.


Figure 04: Example of a scenario with one parcel and two titles


Figure 04


Figure 05 best illustrates an example often seen with properties that have unit titles. In this example a row of four terraced houses are shown on a single parcel, with each house having its own title, meaning there are four titles.

Figure 05: Example of a scenario with one parcel and four titles


Figure 05


Record of Title Current with Diagram

***** BEST SELLER ***** Electronic property title record, showing current proprietor, legal description, registered rights and restrictions, eg mortgage, easement or covenant. Includes a plan or diagram of the land.


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Record of Title Guaranteed Search

As for a current record of title; also shows any documents recently lodged with LINZ but not yet formally registered, eg a newly created covenant. Generally requested by solicitors for property dealings.


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Record of Title Historical

Shows all interests registered when title created, and since. May include scan of paper copy of Certificate of Title.


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Instruments (Document)

Instrument references are recorded on the record of title they are registered against. For example consent notices, mortgages, easements, land covenants.


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